I posted this picture on social media for “Transformation Tuesday”. I had someone point out to me the following regarding the “before” picture, “.. self-conscious as evidenced by your folded arm stance. Notice that?” To which I replied.. “Notice it?? Ha! I wrote the book on it! The body changes well before the mind does.” Which is so true.. there is definitely a lag in which your mind doesn’t believe what it sees.
Shooot.. I went through most of my life not thinking I was pretty.. attractive.. beautiful.. whatever. I always laugh because maybe I have had times in which I thought.. “Hey, I am looking pretty good.”.. just to humbled fairly quickly in one way or another. lol
Either way, just because I lose weight, upgrade my clothes, and change my hair, doesn’t mean suddenly I look in the mirror one day and say, “Hey.. I sure am hot shit!” It means the same person I have been for 40-some years now lives behind a different look. It may mean I dress differently because I can but the person behind the clothes.. behind the body change.. is still the same person who looks at herself and wonders “Am I pretty enough?”; “Am I good enough?”
Let’s look at the contrast in 2 pictures and what they show and yet what they really don’t show..
I was posing for the shot. That does not represent my normal stance. I get asked more times than you can imagine if I am cold because I still have a tendency to stand as the woman on the left does. I have to tell myself to stand up straight.. to throw my shoulders back and walk with confidence. Funny story.. I went through a breakup of a fairly short relationship a decent while ago and one of the parting comments was that he couldn’t handle how self-conscious I was and that I walked with a slouch instead of with confidence. This was not said out of anger or to be mean.. it was said with kindness and the context in which it was said was actually a compliment. The statement was said, “I wish you could see yourself as others do.” With tears in my eyes now.. I tell you that is neither the first or the second time I have heard that same exact statement.. and for many years as well.
The other thing to note regarding the photo is the outfit.. I have not ever worn the outfit again; as is true with all the outfits used in the photo shoots. (Parts of them maybe.. never the dresses and never the entire outfit all together.) One day I tried.. I wore skinny jeans and heels out for the evening and within a couple of hours, I had on flip flops. Why? Not because of physical discomfort but because of mental discomfort. I have no idea if this is true or not.. but I felt as if people were looking at me and it made me uncomfortable. I felt like I looked like I was trying to “flaunt” something that I didn’t believe I had.
There are so many weird emotions we go through. On one hand, we want to totally be ourselves and be accepted for who we are. But do we ever really stop seeking validation or approval from others?
For me, the cycle went as follows..
After the physical change, I wasn’t prepared for attention and didn’t even notice it at first. I had friends who would tell me. I was oblivious.. I didn’t feel I deserved attention. Yet, as I began to notice, I have to admit that I kind of dug the attention. This was validation.. something that I hadn’t given myself but instead sought from others my whole life. Dangerous.. Yes, indeed! I also was concerned for what it said about my character. Does it make me a bad person to like the attention.. validation? Yet there was also the nagging disbelief and some mistrust because I didn’t fully believe it myself.
You see.. my body image and confidence issues started at a young age. I had glasses by the time I was in first grade. I was very skinny, gangly, and a nerdy bookwork. I was bullied in junior high. Therefore..I was not the epitome of self confident! Luckily we moved often so I was able to start over.. locationally, yes, but not mentally. Mentally I still carried the scars from the past.
When I met my now ex-husband, he would say what he liked about me was that I was a beautiful woman who didn’t think I was beautiful. Hmmm.. that sounds like a nice compliment and it is in many ways. The underlying message is, however, that I had self-confidence issues. It was during the marriage that I put on the extra weight and in my mind I became a very frumpy looking wife. Let me assure you that this did not help in the self-confidence department one little bit! I did eventually get a handle on my very unhealthy lifestyle habits, started new habits, and I physically transformed.
The actual outward appearance has little to do with this post. Rightfully, everyone should and will have their own opinions about the pictures.. whether I am attractive, not attractive, skinny, frumpy, etc. Instead it has everything to do with the image that I saw.. the image that I carried and still in many ways carry.
The mental transformation is coming along but it is not without set-backs. I still have those very humbling times!! I will continue to have set-backs and I will probably always be vulnerable in this area. It is possibly just part of who I am. I will carry those scars but my goal is to carry them with some grace and understanding that it is ok to be a tad self-conscious.. and a bit humbled.. this too is part of the imperfect me that is me.
Which brings me back to that said second picture and the photo shoots.. the photo shoots!
When I told Taylor (of LiftEatFlex.com) that I don’t share most of the pictures on Facebook she asked why as she encouraged me to do so. I learn much from this girl daily.. she pushes me to be more bold through her actions, her blog, and her talks with me. Not only do I learn some things on confidence, but I have also discovered the art of hash-tagging. 🙂
The scoop is.. I have done the photo shoots. They are a part of who I am and they are part of my story. Preparing and doing them actually makes me feel beautiful. It makes me step up and “flaunt” it. And I think every single woman in the world deserves to feel beautiful.. no matter size, shape, hair color, race, scars, ink, piercings, and every last imperfection.. Every. Single. Woman deserves that feeling!
Instead of hiding them and as a “bold” move, I have set up a section on my blog (The Photo Shoots). I will start posting those photos starting with the first done in September, 2012 and add the others over the next couple weeks.